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‘On the ball Yarmouth’ - Bloaters fans now have their own anthemic song

PUBLISHED: 07:19 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:18 08 September 2020

The Wellesley recreation ground home to Great Yarmouth Town Football Club
The grandstand

Picture: James Bass

The Wellesley recreation ground home to Great Yarmouth Town Football Club The grandstand Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

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Singer/songwriter Matthew Ceiley from Great Yarmouth whose song Down the Wellesley will be played for the first time at the ground on Saturday (September 12) Picture: Matthew CeileySinger/songwriter Matthew Ceiley from Great Yarmouth whose song Down the Wellesley will be played for the first time at the ground on Saturday (September 12) Picture: Matthew Ceiley

And now fans of a historic seaside team can belt out a new terrace tune celebrating their unexpected success more than half a century ago.

Great Yarmouth Town’s win against Crystal Palace in the first round of the FA Cup in 1953 remains the stuff of legend.

The Bloaters’ proud victory has now been the inspiration for its first anthemic football song, complete with a catchy chorus its writer hopes will get the whole town singing.

Matthew Ceiley’s Down the Wellesley came about as part of a research project involving Herring House Trust and the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust looking into the history of the ground whose grandstand dates to 1890.

Great Yarmouth Town Football Club versus Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 1st round match, 1953. 
Photo: Great Yarmouth Town FCGreat Yarmouth Town Football Club versus Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 1st round match, 1953. Photo: Great Yarmouth Town FC

Having been approached to write a song he decided to focus on the famous FA Cup win of 1953 when some 9,000 fans packed into the venue with fishing boxes piled up to make stands.

The upset remains the team’s most significant win to date with the home crowd stunned to witness a 1-0 victory.

But the chant-friendly chorus focuses on the joy of being a loyal fan with “win or lose the Bloaters are my team.”

Mr Ceiley, 39, of Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth, said being a lifelong Norwich City fan was the perfect backdrop for a song whose lyrics were about being loyal whatever the final score.

The oldest surviving wooden grandstand at the Wellesley Sports Ground, Great Yarmouth. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe oldest surviving wooden grandstand at the Wellesley Sports Ground, Great Yarmouth. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The father-of-three has a passion for the town’s heritage and said it was an honour to record the song, especially given the involvement of Herring House Trust, a charity that helps the homeless.

On Saturday the nostalgic song, written in the folk tradition inspired by Bob Dylan, will be played at the ground for the first time as the Bloaters take on Sudbury Reserves in their second match of the season.

Club manager Rob McCombe said the club was keen to celebrate its heritage and roots as it looked to connect with new fans and that Down the Wellesley had come at the perfect time to help them to do that.

He said the catchy chorus and simple melody - the hallmark of any good football chant - meant it was easy to pick up, adding: “It will be nice to hear people singing it.”

Wellesley Sports Ground. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYWellesley Sports Ground. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Of the 1953 win he said: “At the time it was huge. They were a top level side playing a non-league club.

“In terms of football history it is clearly very significant and we want to keep remembering it.

“One of the things that our chairman Jack Jay is keen to embrace is what the club has been about, and having an iconic song is part of that.”

The Wellesley ground with its wooden stand is reckoned the country’s earliest surviving football grandstand.

Project co-ordinator Patrica Day said the Wellesley research project ran alongside a refurbishment scheme but because of Covid-19 things had been put back.

Today the team plays to a home crowd of around 100.

The ground has reopened for supporters. Kick off on Saturday is at 3pm.


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